“I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke, wearing your own shoe, playing a Sega game featuring you, while singing your own song in a new commercial, starring you, broadcast during the Superbowl, in a game that you are winning, and I will not sleep until that happens.”
-Tom Cruise as Jerry McGwire
Superbowl and “pop” aside, Bobbito Garcia landed all spots above. Though he did play professional basketball before graduating from Wesleyan University, the endorsements came without him being a super-star athlete. Armed with a keen ear and clear vision of realism, Bobbito subsequently transformed into a true renaissance icon.
Sneaker Files readers may know of Bobbito as the ultimate sneaker connoisseur, the host of the ESPN series “It’s the Shoes,” or author of the literary montage “Where’d You Get Those?” The not-shoe savvy Knicks fan may have discovered Bobbito last season as the first Latino to broadcast from Knicks games in English. Video game junkies recognize his voice as the announcer from three video games. He even appeared in the movie “Above the Rim” with the late 2pac. Or perhaps you first noticed him just this year as Nike debut the Bobbito Air Force 1. But it was back in the early 90’s when New York hip hop worms went underground to find “The Strech and Bobbito Show,” which showcased the DJ’ing and MC’ing talents of the duo and their abilities to discover a number of non-contracted, budding superstar artists from 1990-1998.
In 1998, “The Strech and Bobbito Show” was deemed “The Best Hip Hop Radio Show of All Time” by The Source magazine.
Biggie Smalls stopped by the show to rhyme before dropping “Who’s the Man?” Nas freestyled rhymes that later appeared on “Illmatic,” and Mase the Pastor blasted off with Bobbito and Stretch as Mase Murda of the group “Children of the Corn” or COC. The other two notable rappers in COC were Killa Cam (now Camron), and the late Big L. The year 2008 will mark the 10 year anniversary since the final broadcast of the show. Bobbito and Stretch will reunite to mark the occasion and have already began collaborating on a fresh collection of clothing.
In 1990 Bobbito wrote an article titled “Confessions of a Sneaker Addict.” The article was published by The Source magazine in 1991. The piece made a bleep on the Beaverton radar, and in 1993 Bobbito landed his first gig with Nike as a consultant. Bobbito has been a star with the swoosh ever since, appearing in over 40 Nike television commercials throughout the world.
From 1996-2000 Bobbito owned two stores called “Bobbito’s Footwork.” The first opened in New York, the second in Philly. Besides shoes, the unique shops served second-hand vinyl to beat nuts, stocked fat laces, and sold graffiti magazines among other interesting crafts (Jeff Staple was taking notes).
Bobbito explains to Sneaker Files how he still hears from people who once shopped at his stores, “I’ll travel overseas, and people will come up to me and say something like, ‘In ’99, you were the only store in New York that had every single color available of the dunks when they re-issued,’ or ‘Yo, I bought Puma track sneakers in 1996 that were deadstock in your store for $15!”
Garcia mingled and DJ’d throughout the continents for years, and when Nike sought out an ambassador for the Air Force 1 25th anniversary campaign, they looked no further than the multi-cultural icon.
How did blank leather and canvas evolve into the Kool Bob Love Air Force?
“Here’s how it went down,” Bobbito begins to explain: “There’s an art director named Al Baik from Nike and Jesse Laeva is the dude in Portland who oversaw the whole 25th anniversary joint. He paired me with Al Baik and was like yo, work on your fabrics, your colors, and logo. Once we had green-light for a logo, I was amped that an Air Force 1 was going to bear my image or likeness. So, when I spoke to Al Baik (about the logo) I was like look, I’m not just a sneaker head, not just a ball player, I’m not just a hip-hop head, not just a DJ, I’m all of that. I want the logo to represent… basketball and DJ’ing, with some love… that’s all I said, and literally the first time we sat down he showed me (the logo) and he nailed it on the head! The only thing I modified was the 12″ hand-logo, (because the vinyl) didn’t have the hole in the middle… I had an LP playing two seconds ago, I play vinyl! I don’t like CD’s, don’t own an iPod or cell phone, I like my things warm and spirited.”
Warm and spirited is surely the connotation of “Kool Bob Love.” We thank him for sharing his spirit with Sneaker Files.
Check Bobbito’s book, “Where’d You Get Those?…” at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.
See Bobbito’s autobiographical YouTube video here!